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Content Summit: Readers Value Collective Intelligence We Apply to Information

One of the most basic business truths is that scarcity creates value.

There is a scarcity of thoughtful journalism right now across our country. The better that local journalists are filling that void, the stronger our ties to our communities.

Thoughtful journalism happens when good journalists add intelligence to information.

They sift and sort and analyze and organize information in ways that build value for readers. The sophistication of coverage depends on the wisdom applied to it.

This was a central message during the meeting of U.S. Community Publishing editors at the September Content Summit: Our value to readers is in the collective intelligence we apply to information.

So much information that surrounds us now is rather random.

There is an audience for random information. Many new media thrive because people enjoy the surprise of randomness.

There also is an audience – a very large audience – for verified and organized information.

And that’s what we do better than other media, old and new.

It sets us apart and gives our newspapers and digital products distinct value. Our greatest asset is that collective intelligence.

At the Content Summit Sept. 15-17 we talked about five key content strategies for 2010. Each is best accomplished by applying intelligence to information:

* Watchdog journalism is built on great beat reporting. It requires deep knowledge of the issues facing a community, probing questioning, shrewd insight into complex issues.

* The repositioned newspaper of the future will be built on value added to a day’s events – perspective, analysis, context that print readers crave.

* The repositioned Web site will succeed if intelligence is applied to investing in content that works for readers – and abandoning content that does not.

* The Sunday newspaper draws more readers and advertisers than other days and needs to be of extraordinary value each week. That requires keen focus and sharp strategic decisions each week.

* And community leadership, which has always been a core responsibility, is becoming more challenging as “community” is redefined. We must invest intellectual capital in thinking through the role of Gannett media companies in their communities.

These key strategies are designed to build value for readers.

Building value for readers attracts readers. That attracts advertisers.

The theory is simple. Our job is to build the right content to connect with readers.

The execution is not simple. It requires the continued hard work that Gannett’s journalists have shown during these tough two years. Underlying that will be thoughtful decision-making about how to manage the portfolio of products that each site produces.

During the USCP meetings at the Content Summit, I selected a quote as the theme:

“The smarter the journalists are, the better off society is. For to a degree, people read the press to inform themselves – and the better the teacher, the better the student body.”

Warren Buffett gets credit for that.

As an entrepreneur, he knows very well that scarcity creates value.

The greatest value that we offer readers is the intelligence we add to information.

NEWS WATCH note: We will be adding information related to the Content Summit to the Information Center Web site. You also can access ContentOne documents from the Content Summit Web site.

Last Modified: October 2009